Promoting STEAM learning in the early years: “Pequeños Científicos” Program
Keywords:learning, STEAM, early childhood education, gender
Education in the early years is an excellent space for promoting integrated learning. The STEAM education model combines Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics holistically and has gained force globally, mostly in developed countries. However, in developing countries of Latin America, STEAM education programs are incipient and still unfamiliar to many early childhood and primary school educators. "Pequeños Científicos" is a pioneer educational program in Chile aimed at providing extracurricular academic enrichment to students 3 to 10 years old, with a gender-empowering approach. With a cross-sectional design and integrating data from students, researchers and educators, this article documents program design and implementation issues based on a partial application of SWOT analysis grounded on strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. The strengths were the strongest elements that might be transferred to similar interventions, for instance, students were positively engaged in the learning processes and actively communicating their advances through diverse artistic formats. The weaknesses were mainly difficulties that can be avoided in future replication, such as teachers' management of children's behavior. Opportunities present alternatives to these types of programs to improve and grow; for example, through articulation of the courses and including children with additional needs. We call for tackling the weaknesses for more efficient application and discuss the promotion of STEAM learning in the early years in the contexts of high educational inequality for future replication in diverse contexts.